From staff, wire reports
A big game in a big-time arena.
That’s what West Virginia University will experience tonight as the Mountaineers put their three-game winning streak on the line against St. John’s at the famed Madison Square Garden.
The Mountaineers (15-5 overall, 5-2 Big East) are coming off a 77-74 overtime victory over Cincinnati Saturday.
“I told them, ‘You’re getting ready to play in the largest city in the world in the most famous arena in the world.
“Why wouldn’t you be excited about that?’ As a player I couldn’t wait to go to Madison Square Garden,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins. “It ought to be a dream come true for all these freshmen. Obviously KJ and Truck have played there a lot.
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. in a game televised nationally on ESPNU.
WVU is currently in a three-way tie with South Florida and Marquette for third place in conference standings behind 8-1 Syracuse and 6-2 Georgetown.
St. John’s is 8-11, 2-6 following its 79-76 overtime home loss to Villanova on Saturday.
St. John’s has one of the youngest teams in the country with five freshmen, a junior college transfer and one true junior among its top seven.
“I think they’re getting better and better,” said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. “They had a great chance to beat Villanova at home. They went to Cincinnati and won.
“They’re talented,” Huggins added.
Moe Harkless, a 6-foot-8, 203-pound freshman forward, leads St. John’s in scoring and rebounding with averages of 15.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game while adding 35 blocks, 30 steals and 45.6 percent shooting from the floor.
D’Angelo Harrison, another freshman, is averaging 15.3 points per game and has made a team-best 36 3-point field goals. Harrison is coming off a season high 28-point performance against Villanova.
God’sgift Achiuwa, a 6-foot-8, 236-pound junior, is averaging 11.1 points and 6.4 boards per game. He is shooting a team-best 53.2 percent from the floor this year.
West Virginia has one of the best scoring tandems in the Big East in seniors Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant, who both hail from the metropolitan New York City area.
Jones leads the Big East in scoring (20.7 ppg.) and rebounding (11.5 rpg.) while shooting a team-best 55.4 percent from the floor. He is coming off a 26-point, 13-rebound effort against Cincinnati.
Junior forward Deniz Kilicli is contributing 11.1 points and 5.5 rebounds per game and is coming off a 13-point, seven-rebound afternoon against the Bearcats
St. John’s is playing without its head coach Steve Lavin, who is still recovering from successful prostate cancer surgery after coaching just four games this season. He is not expected to return for this season.
Assistant coach Mike Dunlap has been running the team in his absence.
Wednesday night’s game will be the 37th meeting between the two schools. The Mountaineers won 10 in a row until St. John’s knocked them off in Morgantown last year, 81-71. West Virginia has won five in a row at St. John’s, including the last three at Madison Square Garden.